Review: Ruger American Compact Pistol

The Ruger American Compact adds another choice in polymer framed pistols for today’s shooter. IN the near future James will be reviewing the Ruger Compact without the thumb safety. That will be on TFBTV. The reason, of course, is we wanted to present both models to our readers so they could not only have two viewpoints they can also weigh the merits of the model with the thumb safety and without the thumb safety. Both pistols are chambered in 9mm.


There has been some misunderstanding as to the capacity of this compact pistol so let me clear that up. The Ruger Compact comes with a flush fitting magazine which holds 12 rounds while the second magazine holds 17 rounds with an extension collar so the longer magazine makes it look as if the grip has been extended in length.

With 17 round magazine and attached sleeve which is removable.

With 17 round magazine and attached sleeve which is removable.

As mentioned the thumb safety is placed in a similar position to the 1911 but does require a bit more reach to manipulate. The thumb safety is ambidextrous as is the magazine release. The thumb safety has a fairly short throw so it’s fairly easy to use depending on your hand size. Letting your shooting hands thumb rest on top of the safety isn’t practical because of the reach and grip size. The other accessory is the choice of backstraps. The compact comes with a small, medium and large insert. Using the small insert allows the use of the thumb safety as you would use a thumb safety on a 1911.


Specs for the Ruger Compact:

Ruger® Ruger American Pistol®   Centerfire Pistol Model 8639

IMG_0577 (1)

So, what do I like about the compact? First, let me say I like the thumb safety. I know many will disagree and should that be the case that’s fine we all have our preferences. Even if you purchase the thumb safety model it doesn’t mean you have to use it and it doesn’t change the price. Unlike the Glock at least Ruger has provided the consumer the choice to have a manual safety or not. Both models have a rail to attach a compact light or laser to the pistol. While the trigger does feel better than a stock Glock it still has that unexpected break as the striker is released. Not bad it just takes getting used to. The trigger shape I certainly do like. It isn’t as curved as many polymer pistols. The curve is minimal providing better feedback.


After taking the pistol apart and lubing it I took it to the range on several occasions firing a total of 500 rounds of Armscor ammo as well as some of the new Creedmoor JHP rounds(more on this new ammo later). During the testing I had no malfunctions of any kind. It fired all the types of ammo I had without a problem. I prefer a fairly straight backstrap which you can only get with the compact if you use the small grip insert. Using the medium insert the hump it creates is a bit much for my preference but I’m sure many will find it works well for them. I do like the idea of including a flush magazine with your second magazine the large capacity type of the full-size pistol.

While not a match pistol it is combat accurate and will get the job done well at social distances. Between it’s very good reliability and good accuracy this compact Ruger will get the job done without a doubt. It should instill confidence in it’s owner. As with any carry gun practice, practice and more practice!

The MSRP is $579 which means a street price closer to $500–$525 or so. This places it firmly in the same price range as a Glock and other polymer, striker fired pistols.

Ruger American Compact Website

Phil White

Retired police officer with 30 years of service. Firearms instructor and SRU team member. I still instruct with local agencies. My daily carry pistol is the tried and true 1911. I’m the Associate Editor and moderator at TFB. I really enjoy answering readers questions and comments. We can all learn from each other about our favorite hobby!


  • Julius No

    The absolute glut of nearly identical polymer double stacks is starting to show in reviews.

    They all work so well, and have the same features and prices, what is there to really say about em?

    • Sgt. Stedenko

      This makes a Glock or SIG P320 look sexy.
      Ruger needs more warnings on their guns. /s

    • PersonCommenting

      Some are better than others though you are right most work fine. I will say I think you start to here more opinions and actual testing done on guns these days rather than yesteryear. I think the R51 saw to that. I just hope the internet reviewer doesnt become what the magazines did and say everything is great without real testing.

    • Bigbigpoopi

      Figure out your favorite trigger.

  • Nimrod

    I’d like to see this new American compared directly with the SR9c that Ruger makes. The SR9c is a pretty nice little gun and is usually under $350.

    • Hoplopfheil

      Same. I think the RAP may be fine when judged in a vacuum, but I can’t help but think comparing it to competitive options would expose it as being overall lackluster.

      It seems to me that most reviews don’t compare to other options, which seems disingenuous. Say what you will about Nutnfancy, but at least he approaches every review with the perspective of what else is on the market.

      • PersonCommenting

        i disagree, MAC does a pretty good job about talking about other guns in his video. Granted youre right no one talks about it more than Nutnfancy. I really dont get all the hate on that guy. He isnt my favorite by anymeans but he was one of the firsts and he does have good info.

        • RSG

          And most importantly, he’s completely independent. He may have his own preconceived biases (everyone does), but he’s ALWAYS honest and forthcoming about what they are.

          • PersonCommenting

            I dont know why he gets so much hate. Yeah he kind of goes over the top in some subjects but the takes a Hard line on 2A and he actually does something and produces a good product. I personally have nothing against him and enjoy the occasional video.

          • Porty1119

            His videos are a bit long for most tastes, but he makes very good points and isn’t some roid-raging maniac, unlike some guys on YouTube.

          • PersonCommenting

            I dont get why people complain about long content. Dont watch it or skip around to the stuff you want. Now complaining about what type of content and what is said that is another story which I think can have valid complaints but length isnt an issue with me.

          • Gee I bet I know who you mean!!

    • PersonCommenting

      I think the American will get down close to that price in a year or so unless there is a painic. Honestly I see the SR series either becoming Ruger’s version of the Sigma/ SVE or it going away completely. When the SR9 came out the P95 lasted about a year and a half before it was discontinued so we will see if that happens with the SR9. I dont think it will as ruger limited the p95 to just a few SKUs towards the end and we havent seen that with the SR9. While I am sure they have slowed production they havent taken any off the market yet.

  • Hoplopfheil

    I’d like to see this in a direct shootout with a GLOCK 19 and maybe an M&P 9 Compact (cough cough James cough excuse me).

    It looks like with the 12 rounder in it it’s still almost the same size as a GLOCK 19, is that accurate?

    • DaveP.

      Throw in a CZ P07 and I’m there.

      • Hoplopfheil

        I have an intense desire for a P07, I just can’t justify the purchase. Yet.

        • iksnilol

          I can only have one 9mm pistol barring more paperwork and competition.

          Can’t decide between old school CZ 75 (don’t care much for rail), the small P07 or the “modernized” full size PO1.

          / definition of a dilemma right there.

          • Hoplopfheil

            That’s tough. I’d go P07 just because it’s the coolest looking handgun I can think of.

          • iksnilol

            I know, it’s so gosh-darned badass!

            But I think the non-polymer ones have better triggers.

          • Hoplopfheil

            I don’t doubt that the steel pistols are 100 percent better. But they’re not cooler, and that’s what really matters!

          • iksnilol

            Agreed, but I think I’mma go old school. I’ll be the crusty old school space cowboy. The youngin’s can use the tupperware.

          • They sure do have better triggers

          • AC97

            The P01 is the compact, the SP01 is the full-sized modernized version.

            Personally, I’d go for the old school one. I’m looking at getting a CZ as well.

          • A.WChuck

            Old school 75 or 85!

    • It’s pretty close in size.

  • PersonCommenting

    I think Ruger is going to have a common theme with producing handguns. 1st comes a full sized gun, then a compact then a full sized with no safety, although with this gun they offered that at the start. They can still put something “new” out on the shelves every year and capture that new buyer here and there without creating something truly new.

    • iksnilol

      Kinda like cars.

      • PersonCommenting

        I mean there is only so much you can do to it. My old ford missed having a compass by one year darn the luck….

        • iksnilol

          You could’a had a compass?


          Was it the version with the thing that tells time as well ?

          • PersonCommenting

            Nah it was the one that had the LCD with the button that transitioned to other info like the temp and mileage. The clock that I had on the radio of my Exploding Explorer stopped working 2 years after I got it. Then smoke started coming from the steering column 4 years after I got it. How ford managed to not take bailout money is beyond me because they really did make crap cars back in the late 90s and early 2000s.

          • iksnilol

            Smoke from the steering column?

            I think that’s a feature, tactical smokescreen for the driver so that cops and cameras can’t see your face (I assume the smoke got inside the cabin).

          • Santa

            Too tactically distracting, you’ll perforate your ocular mass out, kid.

    • Banana Xango

      They have a pretty clear release schedule for their products because they like to release feedback updates annually. They even send surveys to Ruger owners asking what they want at the beginning of the year. The SR’s and LCP’s are pretty indicative of this. SR9, SR9c, SR40, SR40c, SR45, American, AC… shame they skipped the 45c this year. The LCP, Custom, II updates are clearly Ruger trying to hold on to their slice of the market by updating quickly. Those are being put out in tandem with the LC9 and 9 Pro so a new American-style 9 subcompact is probably already in the works.

  • olivehead

    “While the trigger does feel better than a stock Glock …”
    I just don’t get this, and it seems to be a typical line in reviews of this gun and some others of this type. The trigger on the RAP compact I handled was worse than on the full size I’ve shot: long pull to the break, long reset, and mushy in between. Worse than a stock M&P trigger (which I’ve come to realize isn’t all that bad). The RAP trigger is to Glock as Glock is to PPQ. The gun itself is a chunky, wide, and heavy pistol best suited to pistol-whipping. Just my 2 cents.

  • Christopher Wallace

    while in the right place, that is one bigass safety lever

    • PersonCommenting

      Well if youre going to have a safety better it be one you can actually ride on. I like it better than some companies safeties cause you can actually use it. It isnt just there to appease military and LEO and not meant to be used.

  • Mark Horning

    Still don’t understand the point of this pistol. The SR9c is lighter, less ugly, and has much better trigger and ergonomics. Also costs less.

  • Lew Siffer

    I would buy one right now if the Glock 19 didn’t exist.

  • mig1nc

    Can you tell us how wide the grip is with the small module installed?

  • 3==>~Sharia

    It looks good. Love the option of having a safety on a striker fired handgun. I find it terribly annoying that safeties are not included with every single handgun (they could be removed for those who don’t want them). Ruger has gone from making cheap looking but reliable guns (pistols and rifles) to making good looking and reliable guns, which I think is going to gain them a larger market share.